Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Really Happened to the Lost Colony?

UNC professor shares his theory

Staff Writer
Friday, February 22, 2008

BARCO — What really happened to the Lost Colony? That's a question that has baffled historians for more than 400 years. One University of North Carolina professor shared his theory as to what happened to the ill-fated colonists during a lecture Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Currituck Public Library.

In the last half of the 20th century historians have concluded that the 120 English colonists were either killed by American Indians, or that they left the island and joined various Indian tribes, said professor David La Vere, of UNC at Wilmington.

Historian David La Vere discusses his opinion of what happened to the Lost Colony during a forum held at the Currituck Public Library in Barco Saturday.

However, La Vere believes the colonists' disappearance was due to a combination of both beliefs. La Vere has devoted years to investigating the disappearance of the settlers, who in 1587 landed on the shores of Roanoke Island. Three years later the settlers had vanished and the only clue left behind was a mysterious inscription found on a tree. The vanishing settlers are remembered in history as the "Lost Colony."

Historians believe that the settlers were hindered by a bad drought, which made it difficult for them to grow crops, La Vere said. That's when their leader, Gov. John White, sailed back to England to get more supplies. White was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 1590, a delay that La Vere said he believes was due to England's politics and it's war with Spain.

When White finally made it back to Roanoke Island, all that remained of any sign of the settlers was the word "Croatan" inscribed on a tree. La Vere said he believes Croatan is a reference to an island of the same name near Buxton, where he believes about 20 of the settlers went after waiting as long as possible for White to return before giving up and leaving. At Croatan, the settlers would wait and watch for the return of supply ships. He said he believes the remaining settlers tried to make it north to Virginia in hopes of finding other white settlements, La Vere said.

While anthropologists, archeologists and other scientists are still studying disappearance of the Lost Colony, La Vere said he believes the 100 or so colonists who tried to reach Virginia mistakenly traveled up the Chowan River and were either killed or captured and put into slavery by the Mangoak Native American tribe.

"It makes most sense to me that the Mangoaks killed or captured the colonists," La Vere said.
He also said that he believes Croatan was friendly Indian territory, and the survivors of the group of 20 were probably adopted into Indian society, married and had children.

La Vere said there have been reports of blond-haired American Indians spotted in the early 17th century, but as of now, there is no information to confirm they were descendants of the Lost Colony.

La Vere has performed extensive research on American Indians who lived in parts of North Carolina and Virginia during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and how they may have played a role in the colonists' disappearance. To help explain his theory, La Vere discussed the tribes that inhabited North Carolina's Albemarle and Piedmont areas, as well as the area known today as Chesapeake, Va.

Full Article Here:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The White-De Bry Map of Virginia (1590)

In 1590 Theodor De Bry published Part I of his America, which included several of his engravings based on drawings of the New World by John White. Notable among them is a map of the east coast of North America from the lower Chesapeake Bay south past Cape Lookout. Three probable sources of this collaborative map are extant: a crude pen-and ink map, perhaps by Ralph Lane, and two of an unknown number of White's detailed watercolor sketch maps — one, on a large scale, covering much the same area as the engraving; the other, on a small scale, showing southeastern North America and part of the West Indies.

Some features unique to the White-De Bry are corrections; others are errors; still others may be based on sketch maps now lost. Following is the key to the White-De Bry map which was taken, with many liberties, from Appendix I of David B. Quinn's Roanoke Voyages (London, 1955).

MAP KEY found here:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Designer to recreate Lost Colony costumes burned in fire

Designer to recreate Lost Colony costumes burned in fire

February 15, 2008 07:32 EST

MANTEO, N.C. (AP) -- Tony Award winning costume designer William Ivey Long says he plans to recreate more than one thousand costumes that were lost in the September fire at "The Lost Colony."The fire in Manteo caused nearly 3 million dollars damage.Long was happy to see one item yesterday that he thought had burned. Andy Griffith brought a sword that he used in 1949 while portraying Sir Walter Raleigh in the historical drama. The sword had been at the actor's Manteo home. A previous costume director had given the sword to Griffith in 1983.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thousands Of Humans Inhabited New World's Doorstep For 20,000 Years

Thousands Of Humans Inhabited New World's Doorstep For 20,000 Years

ScienceDaily (2008-02-13) -- The human journey from Asia to the New World was interrupted by a 20,000-year layover in Beringia. Furthermore, the New World was colonized by approximately 1,000 to 5,000 people -- a substantially higher number than the 100 individuals of previous estimates. The developments help shape understanding of how the Americas came to be populated -- not through a single expansion event but in three distinct stages separated by thousands of generations. ...

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America

Well before the Jamestown settlers first sighted the Chesapeake Bay or the Mayflower reached the coast of Massachusetts, the first English colony in America was established on Roanoke Island. David Stick tells the story of that fascinating period in North Carolina's past, from the first expedition sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 to the mysterious disappearance of what has become known as the lost colony.

Included in the colorful cast of characters are the renowned Elizabethans Sir Francis Drake and Sir Richard Grenville; the Indian Manteo, who received the first Protestant baptism in the New World; and Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in America. Roanoke Island narrates the daily affairs as well as the perils that the colonists experienced, including their relationships with the Roanoacs, Croatoans, and the other Indian tribes. Stick shows that the Indians living in northeastern North Carolina—so often described by the colonists as savages—had actually developed very well organized social patterns.

The fate of the colonists left on Roanoke Island by John White in 1587 is a mystery that continues to haunt historians. A relief ship sent in 1590 found that the settlers had vanished. Stick makes available all of the evidence on which historians over the centuries have based their conjectures. Methodically reconstructing the facts—and exposing the hoaxes—he invites readers to draw their own conclusions concerning what happened.

Exploring the significance of that first English settlement in the New World, Stick concludes that speculation over the fate of the lost colony has overshadowed the more important fact that the Roanoke Island colonization effort helped prepare for the successful settlement of Jamestown two decades later. "Had it been otherwise," he contends, " those of us living here today might well be speaking Spanish instead of English."

The four hundredth anniversary of the exploration and settlement of what came to be called North Carolina occurred in 1984. For that occasion, America's Four Hundredth Anniversary Committee commissioned this factual and readable history.

Amazon Book Review

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Budweiser Contest: Traces Your Family Tree To Roots In Africa

Register to Win a Genealogy Test and Trip for Four to the Motherland

January 30, 2008

This February – Black History Month – Anheuser-Busch and its flagship brand Budweiser will help one person win the chance of a lifetime: discovering their family’s origins and the opportunity to travel to that destination to retrace their family’s history.

The sweepstakes, “Discover Your History,” provides a grand prize that includes a trip for the winner and three guests to explore their ancestral background as determined via genetic testing. The journey includes round-trip air transportation and two double-occupancy hotel rooms for up to nine nights and a completed family tree. Nine First Prizes also will be awarded and consist of genetic genealogy testing and ancestral family tree research. Official sweepstakes rules, instructions and an online registration form can be obtained at

“One of the most basic human desires is to understand who we are and how our family is woven into the broader, historic context of humanity,” said Johnny Furr Jr., vice president, Community Affairs and Supplier Diversity for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We at Budweiser are proud to offer a lucky family the chance to embark on this remarkable journey of discovery. We hope to inspire others to use today’s technology to learn about their ancestors and region of origin.”

Also during February, Budweiser is partnering with nationally syndicated radio host Michael Baisden to offer an additional 20 genetic genealogy tests and complete family tree compilations. Listeners may call in live during “The Michael Baisden Show,” a popular afternoon talk and music program, to answer questions pertaining to black history. Winners will be selected from listeners providing correct answers. Visit for more details.

In total, 30 families will receive priceless information regarding their family history. The genetic testing will be done by LLC, a company founded by Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. His firm aims to use historians and anthropologists to explain which of various genetic possibilities – prompted by DNA traces – is more historically likely. The genealogy investigation works by matching a customer’s DNA to a database of samples collected from Africans living today. The large migrations of African people during the last 3,000 years mean that a contestant’s DNA might share genetic similarities with somebody living today in Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Angola, Nigeria or Sierra Leone.

Dr. Gates’ fascination with DNA searches led him to trace his own ancestry along with other famous African-Americans for a PBS miniseries. A sequel, featuring a new group of participants will air in February.

Genetic testing, DNA analysis and extensive research databases allow Americans of African descent to obtain more accurate evidence in the identification and continuity of family lines. Migration maps and other genealogical investigative tools are used to unravel complex ancestry that may lead to fascinating discoveries about lineage including slavery, Reconstruction, early U.S. history and more distant ancestral origins in Africa, the Americas and even Europe.

DNA studies have shown that people shared a common ancestor who lived in Africa between 50,000 to 200,000 years ago. As humanity’s ancestors migrated out of Africa into the rest of the world, small changes called mutations occurred in their DNA. As generations passed, some mutations link the ancestors to a time and place in history. The mutations found in contemporary DNA, through genetic testing, creates the ability to trace a person’s ancestral path to discover who their ancestors were, where they might have lived and how they migrated throughout the world.

The contest entry period is Feb. 1 through 29, 2008. Winners will be selected among all eligible entries in a random drawing to be held in March. The Grand Prize winner will be responsible for some expenses, and travel must be completed by June 30, 2009. The sweepstakes is open to residents of the United States (void where prohibited) who are at least 21 years old, and there is no purchase necessary to enter. An independent judging agency will conduct the drawing and notify winners by mail.

Based in St. Louis, Anheuser Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.4 percent share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser Busch also owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer, and a 27 percent share in China brewer Tsingtao, whose namesake beer brand is the country’s best-selling premium beer. Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine’s Most Admired U.S. and Global Companies lists in 2007. Anheuser Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and one of the world’s largest recyclers of aluminum cans. For more information, visit

Entry Here:

(Cut and paste if you don't get the entry form)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

“African-American Lives 2” Premiers Tonight Feb. 6th

Published: February 5, 2008

“African-American Lives 2,” a four-part series on PBS that begins on Wednesday night, belies its sleepy name with the poetry of history, the magic of science and the allure of the family trees of Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Tina Turner, Don Cheadle, Tom Joyner and Maya Angelou.

It is the latest incarnation of the highly rated, critically successful star genealogy program that its host, the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., presented in 2006. Then Oprah Winfrey, Chris Tucker, Quincy Jones and Whoopi Goldberg were among Professor Gates’s eight guests for “African-American Lives.” That was followed in 2007 by “Oprah’s Roots.”

This time scientists use DNA samples, and scholars peruse slave ship records, wills and other documents to recreate the histories of 12 people, including Professor Gates and one Everywoman guest.

“I conceived of these series as roots in a test tube,” Professor Gates says early in “Lives,” which will be broadcast on most PBS stations in two hourlong episodes on Wednesday and two on Feb. 13. Through the prism of the individual stories of rapes of black women, the failed promise of Reconstruction, the great migration of black Southerners to the North, the struggle for education, land, and freedom, Professor Gates lays bare the basic contradiction of the American dream.

Mr. Rock can be seen wiping away a tear after learning that his great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, served in the South Carolina Legislature, and died owning dozens of acres of land. He never knew any of that history, Mr. Rock says in the program. He recounts growing up in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood and being bused to a white school where he was bullied.

“Until I lucked into a comedy club at, you know, age 20, just on a whim, I assumed I would pick up things for white people for the rest of my life,” Mr. Rock says. “If I’d known this, it would have taken away the inevitability that I was going to be nothing.”

Along with the triumphs are the inevitable tragedies. Tom Joyner, the celebrity radio personality, is shaken to learn that in 1915 an all-white jury in South Carolina convicted his two great-uncles of killing a white man. They were prosperous landowners, but were sent to the electric chair, even though evidence uncovered by the “Lives” researchers suggests their innocence. Mr. Joyner and Professor Gates said they planned to petition the South Carolina government to exonerate them posthumously.

Mr. Joyner is seen in “Lives” gathered with his extended family, reading old newspaper articles and learning a story that had been lost.

“I have had mixed emotions — grief, anger, pride,” Mr. Joyner said in an interview about the program’s revelations, adding, “If you feel — and all of us have these feelings — that you can’t go any further, think about the people in your past and what they survived.”

In addition to the celebrities, the “Lives” interview subjects include Bliss Broyard, a writer whose father, Anatole Broyard, a New York Times book critic and editor, was black and passed for white; the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard theologian; Linda Johnson Rice, president and chief executive of the company that publishes Ebony and Jet magazines; Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the Olympic gold-medal athlete; and Kathleen Henderson, a University of Dayton administrator who competed with more than 2,000 entrants to be on the program.

Professor Gates, a co-founder of the genealogy Web site and the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, keeps things going at a rapid pace for his guests. He whips out photographs of former slave masters (who were sometimes relatives), pinpoints the African countries of ancestors and travels to Ireland himself to track down his Irish roots. In the last episode everyone learns his or her percentage of European, Native American and African blood.

“These stories are much more in-depth than those in ‘African-American Lives,’ ” Mr. Gates said in a recent telephone interview. “Then, a lot of documents had not been digitized, and we’ve learned to interpret the DNA testing better, with more subtlety and sophistication.”
In one of the stories Morgan Freeman puzzles over the nature of the relationship between his white great-great-grandfather and African-American great-great-grandmother, who had eight children together. His great-great grandfather’s employer owned her.

“I don’t know, really,” Mr. Freeman replies when Professor Gates asks him how that information makes him feel.

But, in a twist, the “Lives” researchers discovered that Mr. Morgan’s white great-great grandfather sold land to his biracial sons. And they found the great-great-grandparents’ headstones on that land in Mississippi, side by side, bearing the same last name and surrounded by the graves of their children.

Monday, February 4, 2008

'Mysteries of the Lost Colony' Exhibit Proves to be Huge Hit

Nearly 58,000 Saw Lost Colony Exhibit

Approximately 58,000 people took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the exhibit “Mysteries of the Lost Colony” and “A New World: England’s First View of America” from the British Museum. The exhibit ran from Oct. 20, 2007, to Jan. 14, 2008, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

“This was the most exciting exhibit the museum has ever presented,” says Ken Howard, director of the N.C. Museum of History. “It had one of the highest attendance records for an exhibit, and visitor response was extremely positive.”

“Mysteries of the Lost Colony” and “A New World” brought many “firsts” to the N.C. Museum of History. For example, it was the first venue in North America to showcase the complete collection of watercolor drawings made by John White on his voyages to Virginia (now North Carolina) in the 1580s. These watercolors appeared in the traveling exhibition “A New World: England’s First View of America,” presented by the British Museum in London.

In “Mysteries of the Lost Colony,” visitors learned about England’s first attempts at a permanent settlement in America and about several theories surrounding the colonists’ disappearance at Roanoke Island. The exhibit also featured the 70-year history of the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony,” based in Manteo. Mysteries of the Lost Colony was presented by the N.C. Museum of History in collaboration with the Roanoke Island Historical Association, producer of “The Lost Colony.”

Visitors Contributed Toward Costume Replacement Fund

Mysteries of the Lost Colony showcased nine costumes, stage props and a number of artifacts saved from the Sept. 11, 2007, fire that struck Waterside Theatre and destroyed three buildings at “The Lost Colony” site. Among the devastating losses were hundreds of the costumes, including historic ones from the drama’s early years, housed in the Irene Smart Rains Costume Shop.

To help with recovery efforts, a donation box was placed in the exhibit for “The Lost Colony” Costume Replacement Fund, and visitors contributed more than $1,300 toward new costumes. Additionally, the Museum Shop carried merchandise from “The Lost Colony” gift shop in Manteo. All proceeds from these items went toward the fund, and the sales raised more than $5,000.

“We are thankful to the N.C. Museum of History for allowing us to partner with this historical project,” says Carl V. Curnutte, executive director and producer of “The Lost Colony.” “The funds collected from exhibit visitors reaffirm our commitment to ‘The Lost Colony’ — America’s story. We are thankful to those who contributed to our replacement fund. Their gift will help us keep telling this story for the next 70 years.”

The museum’s hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 919-807-7900 or visit The museum is part of the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources,

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"The First Colony" Television Show's Last Broadcast Tonight

In a show produced by a local man, archaeologists say Spanish artifacts in western N.C. predate 'Lost Colony'


By Ginger LivingstonThe Daily Reflector

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A public television show produced by a local man and airing tonight (repeats Sunday) features archeological work that could change how North Carolinians view the early history of the state.

"The First Lost Colony" is the segment airing locally at 8:30 p.m. on UNC-TV's "Exploring North Carolina" on Suddenlink channel 4. The show was co-produced and photographed by Pitt County resident Joe Albea.

Archaeologists studying the site of a 16th century Spanish fort in Burke County have found pottery shards from olive jars, finishing nails and lead balls used in muskets.

"The First Lost Colony" examines the work archeologists from North Carolina, South Carolina and Illinois are doing at a Burke County farm. Scientists are certain it is the location of Fort San Juan, one of five colonies the Spanish established in the interior United States about 20 years before the British sent its failed colony to Roanoke Island in what is now Dare County. That group of men and women became the storied "Lost Colony" that vanished, leaving only the word "Croatoan" carved on a tree.

"The 16th century for the large part is forgotten but there was a lot of exploration of the continent at that time," Albea said.

The N.C. Natural History Museum hosted a premiere of the show Wednesday night in Raleigh. About 250 attended the event, including the site's discoverer, Warren Wilson College professor and archeologist David Moore, and his colleagues Robin Beck with Southern Illinois University and Christopher Rodning with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,%20archaeologists%20say%20Spanish%20...

To read more about the work at the Berry site, visit

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National Science Foundation Grant Yields Pay Dirt

By Janet Crain

Warren Wilson College professor David Moore and fellow archaeologists Robin Beck and Christopher Rodning began planning a research project and field school at the Berry site in 2001. They were awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $167,012 for two summers of excavations at the Berry site near Morganton.

The Berry site along Upper Creek is the location of an ancestral Catawba Indian town named Joara, at which the Spanish captain Juan Pardo built Fort San Juan in 1567. The garrison was the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States, predating the earliest English settlement at Roanoke “The Lost Colony” by 17 years. The early Spanish attempts at settlement were partially responsible for spurring on the English efforts, which though not successful initially, culminating with the Jamestown settlement, did permanently establish the English in North America.

Professors Beck, of the University of Oklahoma, and Rodning, of Tulane University, have been working with Moore to help write this early story of European exploration and settlement in eastern North America.

Under the Upper Catawba Archeology Project, the archaeologists are researching the long-forgotten episode of Fort San Juan's founding and its fiery destruction in the spring of 1568.

When awarded this grant in 2006, Moore stated; “When we began planning our research project and field school in 2001, it was our goal to work systematically to have a legitimate chance to receive a major award such as this, Chris and Rob and I are really excited to receive this grant, and appreciate the support we have received. We're now actively engaged in planning for next summer.”

Now this long planned archaeological dig is paying off in a big way.